100-Year-Old Church Demolished

July 17, 2014
[By Leigh Williams, Contributing Writer]

A Mt. Vernon church that has provided its congregation a place to gather and worship for nearly 100 years will soon be demolished. According to the Associated Press, the Saint Mary Catholic Church on North 14th Street will be torn down after maintenance costs on the building continued to grow and efforts toward preservation stalled.

A special Mass was held to say goodbye to the church after which the doors were sealed.

The church, which dates back to 1921, closed last year after a newer building was built next to the original chapel.

“Statues and artifacts from the old church have been moved to the new one. The lot will become parking and an expansion of the St. Mary’s school playground. Bricks and beams from the old church will see new life in a wedding chapel in the southern Illinois community of Eldorado,” the Associated Press states. The church was included in a 2008 walking tour of Mt. Vernon Landmarks which included information on the building stating the establishment of the church preceded the historic structure.

“In the 1860’s there were a small number of Catholic families in Mt. Vernon. The prominent Judge Thomas S. Casey resided at 1314 Main Street, the house that has since become Hughey Funeral Home,” the information states. Masses were held in the Casey home through 1880 when a small church was built at the North 14th Street location.

“In 1921, the little frame church was picked up and moved north to make way for a bigger, sturdier building. The small church, in its new location, was still used for Sunday Mass until May 30, 1922, when the new $30,000 brick structure, with a seating capacity of 230, was dedicated as the Immaculate Conception of Mary Church. Since that time, the church has been known as St. Mary Church or occasionally as Immaculate Conception Parish,” according to the information provided.

The original wood frame church was used as the parish hall until 1929 when it was dismantled and the lumber sold for $140. The new, larger and more modern building has a seating capacity of 600.